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Oxidation is the process where atoms lose electrons during a chemical reaction. Among the radioactive elements, neptunium and plutonium are much harder to oxidize than uranium. To study these elements, scientists have designed donor ligands — molecules that contribute electron density to metal centers. This allows scientists to stabilize these metals as they become more electron-poor. Accessing and studying the high oxidation states of uranium, neptunium, and plutonium complexes helps scientists understand their chemical reactivities—how easily they form new chemical compounds. These studies can shed light on how radioactive materials may behave in nuclear waste streams and waste storage. This study summary was written by Henry La Pierre, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration Transuranic Chemistry Center of Excellence.U.S. Department of Energy
Carbon nanotubes are a large family of carbon-based hollow cylindrical structures with unique physicochemical properties that have motivated research for diverse applications; some have reached commercialization. Recent actions in the European Union that propose to ban this entire class of materials highlight an unmet need to precisely define carbon nanotubes, to better understand their toxicological risks for human health and the environment throughout their life cycle, and to communicate science-based policy-driving information regarding their taxonomy, safe sourcing, processing, production, manufacturing, handling, use, transportation and disposal. In this Perspective, the authors discuss current information and knowledge gaps regarding these issues and make recommendations to provide research and development, and regulatory clarity, regarding the material properties of different carbon nanotube materials. A co-author of this article is Mijin Kim, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.Nature Reviews Materials
Climate change is threatening the survival of plants and animals around the globe as temperatures rise and habitats change. Some species have been able to meet the challenge with rapid evolutionary adaptation and other changes in behavior or physiology. Dark-colored dragonflies are getting paler in order to reduce the amount of heat they absorb from the sun. Mustard plants are flowering earlier to take advantage of earlier snowmelt. Lizards are becoming more cold-tolerant to handle the extreme variability of our new climate. However, scientific studies show that climate change is occurring much faster than species are changing. James Stroud, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, co-authored this article. (This article was also covered at the Beaumont Enterprise, Yahoo! News and CapeTalk 567AM.)The Conversation